The Loft Cafe & Social Lounge: Where to walk on the bold side of dining

  • Thu Jan 28th, 2010 3:07pm
  • Life

By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer

If you are under the impression that Edmonds is a bedroom town full of seniors seeking early-bird specials, think again.

This quaint waterfront burb, my new hometown, is a find for foodies in search of cutting-edge cuisine.

The Loft Cafe &Social Lounge is one of the best of the bunch.

Black-crystal chandeliers, low red lighting, high ceilings and a glowing full bar greet you here.

You’ll have to arrive early to snag one of the few tables in the small main dining room. Your next-best bet is the namesake loft, another small space atop a steep staircase and away from the bustle of the bar.

Your third option is a year-round covered patio out back, the largest and most casual of the dining areas, dotted with cafe tables and heated with surprisingly effective propane lamps.

Though this restaurant-bar is relatively small, its flavors — in terms of food and drink — are unabashedly bold.

We started with two mojitos, popular drinks here, thanks to a signature splash of champagne ($10 each). They paired beautifully with the spicy pancetta pesto prawns ($13), one of the many items on the small-plates portion of the menu.

This is a must-try dish, one we had on all three of our visits to The Loft.

Five black tiger prawns are wrapped in thinly sliced, aromatic ham, sauteed in chili basil pesto and butter and served on a grilled leaf of romaine.

Our cheese plate ($12) came with a local favorite, Beecher’s Reserve white cheddar made in Seattle, plus an addictive brielike selection, a rich blue and a porter cheddar, plus prosciutto, honey syrup, quince vinaigrette, pear slices and almonds.

We skipped the extremely tempting salad options and jumped to entrees, a grilled tenderloin fillet for my husband ($27) and pan-seared sea scallops for me ($19).

There’s no shortage of restaurants offering mediocre versions of both these dishes. But, fortunately, The Loft isn’t one of them. And that’s not just the rum talking.

Both dishes were gorgeously presented, perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

Somehow the chef had managed to create a golden brown crust on the top and bottom of the scallops while keeping their centers buttery and tender.

My husband said his steak, served with a Marsala demi-glace, was one of the best he’d ever had — and he’s had a lot of steaks. I liked it, too, and found myself repeatedly stealing bites of his excellent basil-whipped mashed potatoes, broccolini and roasted cherry tomatoes.

If The Loft has a weakness, it might be that the flavors are, at times, almost too much, sometimes bordering on salty.

This, of course, might be intentional. What better way to encourage customers to order more perfect, though pricey, cocktails?

Service at The Loft on all three of our visits was well-timed, attentive and unaffected, just how we like it.

Though we’ve never tried lunch here, we probably should.

Some of the dinner items, including four dinner salads, truffle oil fries, Kobe beef sliders and the aforementioned prawns, are available along with options unique to lunch, such as paninis, soup, classic American sandwiches and a Greek pita.

Owner Niko Raptis, who also owns Portofino Pizza &Pasta in Edmonds, said he opened The Loft in August 2008 to bring a downtown-Seattle feeling to the heart of Edmonds.

Indeed, The Loft and its new formidable competitor across the street, Epulo Bistro, are fast making Edmonds a dining destination.

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037; sjackson@heraldnet.com.